(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A large fire department response has been dispatched to the Ballston Metro station for a report of smoke in a Metro tunnel.
Metro called the fire department, reporting smoke in one of the tunnels between the Ballston and Virginia Square stations. Power has been cut to the track as firefighters investigate.
Metro says trains are single-tracking between Clarendon and Ballston stations as a result.
Firefighters in the tunnel are reporting a smoldering pile of trash along the third rail. There’s also a report of an arcing insulator.
The large emergency response comes after Monday’s fatal Metro incident outside the L’Enfant Metro station, in which smoke filled a disabled Metro train in a tunnel.
As of 10:40 a.m., fire department units were starting to clear the scene. Metro maintenance personnel are now working on the track problem. No additional smoke or fire has been reported.
Metro is advising Orange and Silver Line riders to expect delays.
Orange/Silver Lines: Expect delays of approx 30 min due to single tracking at Ballston.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) January 16, 2015
Update: smoke at Ballston Metro was isolated to malfunctioning insulator, metro maintenance on scene & FD units starting to go in service
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) January 16, 2015
Metro reduced the number of Blue Line trains stopping in Arlington to better accommodate the Silver Line. It also expected the “Orange Crush,” or Orange Line overcrowding during rush hour, to lessen because some people would switch to the Silver Line.
How has the addition of the Silver Line affected your commute? Choose up to two answers.
Arlingtonian Walter Walsh Dies at 106 — Walter Walsh, a world-class Olympic marksman who had a knack for tracking down and shooting gangsters as an FBI agent in the 1930s, has died just a week shy of his 107th birthday. After battling gangsters in the U.S., Walsh entered combat in the Pacific during World War II, at one point killing an enemy sniper from 80 yards away with a single pistol shot. Walsh died at his home in Arlington. [New York Times]
Orange Line Delays This Weekend — This weekend, starting at 10:00 p.m. Friday, Orange Line trains will run every 24 minutes due in part to fence repairs and work on a communications cable between East Falls Church and West Falls Church. [WMATA]
Arlington Participates in National PrepareAthon Day — Personnel from Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management went around to local coffee shops yesterday morning, handing out flyers on National PrepareAthon Day. OEM employees urged Arlington residents to prepare themselves for strong summer storms and to sign up for Arlington Alert emails. [WUSA 9]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Ex-Marine Convicted in Murder Case — Former Marine Jorge Torrez has been convicted of first degree murder in the killing of fellow Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The trial will now enter the sentencing phase, with federal prosecutors seeking the death penalty. In a separate case, Torrez was previously convicted of rape in Arlington County and sentenced to life in prison. [Washington Post]
Dems Now Regretting Special Election Schedule? — Arlington Democrats may now be regretting the timing of yesterday’s County Board special election. Because departed County Board member Chris Zimmerman pushed back his last day in office, the special election was held after the filing deadline for nominations in the general election. That leaves Alan Howze as the sole Democrat on the ticket, despite the large margin of his loss Tuesday. [InsideNoVa]
Wardian Wins North Pole Marathon — Prolific Arlington marathon runner Michael Wardian has won the 2014 North Pole Marathon. Wardian finished the marathon, held in sub-zero temperatures, with a time of 4:07:40. He “described it as the toughest race he’s ever run.” [Facebook]
Major Delays on Orange Line This AM — Orange Line riders faced significant delays this morning due to a signal problem outside Stadium-Armory. One rider told ARLnow.com via email that the line was “seriously f–ked,” with “delays and overflowing platforms.” [Twitter]
East Arlington Remembered — East Arlington, a long-standing African-American community that was razed to make way for construction of the Pentagon and its road network in the 1940s, were remembered in a program hosted by the Arlington Historical Society. [Falls Church News-Press, YouTube]
Arlington will play a pivotal role in the regional economy with the coming of the Silver Line, suggests Metro planning director Shyam Kannan.
Speaking at GMU’s Va. Square campus last week, Kannan said that the Silver Line and development around Tysons Corner will make the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor the economic “fulcrum” of the D.C. area. Development pressure — particularly demand for new apartments and condos — “only becomes more pronounced” with the Silver Line, he said, thanks to our central location between the “downtowns” of the District and Tysons Corner.
That should come as a welcome bit of prognostication for Arlington County, which has been fretting about economic competition with a newly Metro-accessible Tysons Corner.
The Silver Line, however, will hasten the necessity to build a second Potomac River crossing between Rosslyn and the District. Already, service adjustments are putting a squeeze on the Blue Line through Rosslyn, reducing train frequency and increasing crowding. Metro envisions building a second Rosslyn Metro station, which will connect with a new Metro line through Georgetown via a second Potomac River tunnel. That will help alleviate the increasingly problematic “bottleneck” between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
Kannan acknowledged that overcrowding and frequent equipment breakdowns are a problem, but said Metro is working to solve both.
“For those of you who have experienced the service disruptions… you’ve seen that there are impacts to our daily lives,” he said. “Metro needs to continuously invest in its resources.”
Another “long, long range plan” is to build an express line on the Orange Line which will bypass the R-B corridor, Kannan said. And South Arlington was not left out of Metro’s plans: a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station is being proposed.
All of this will come at a cost. Kannan made sure to emphasize, for the Arlington officials in the audience, that Arlington and other local jurisdictions will either need to increase their contributions to Metro in order to fund its long-range capital plans, or help the agency obtain a dedicated funding stream — i.e. some sort of a regional tax.
“The question as a region we have to ask ourselves is, ‘are we okay going into the middle of the 21st century with a transit system that functions the same way it functioned in 1976?” he asked. “I don’t think that really spells economic strength or prosperity or livability.”
“Arlington has been a great partner,” Kannan said. “Metro is hitching its wagon to Arlington County. What bet are you willing to make now?”
The plans discussed by Kannan are a long way off, likely a decade or much longer. In the meantime, Kannan says Metro hopes to increase the capacity of its increasingly crowded rail system — which is “busting at the seams” — by switching from a combination of 6- and 8-car trains to all 8-car trains. But even that seemingly simple solution is proving to be an expensive uphill battle.
“We’re fighting hand to hand combat right now to make sure we just have the funding to keep the system going and to get to 8-car trains,” he said.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in ARLbiz, our weekly local business e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
WMATA says trains were single-tracking between Ballston and Clarendon due to a disabled train at Virginia Square. As of 9:35 a.m., WMATA says normal service has been restored.
Riders reported crowded station platforms and having to wait more than half an hour for an inbound train.
Silver Line Predictions for Arlington — A new report indicates the Silver Line will transform Reston and Tysons Corner into transit-oriented cities, similar to what occurred along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor after the arrival of the Orange Line. “Our Man in Arlington” notes the Silver Line will increase competition for businesses in Arlington, but quotes the director of Arlington Economic Development, who believes the county can hold onto its businesses. Arlington is expected to experience other changes from the Silver Line, such as changes in frequency for Orange Line trains. [Reston Now, Falls Church News-Press]
Look at Proposed Metro Changes — Metro’s recently announced proposal for a downtown loop , which would include one Arlington “super station” at the Pentagon, is getting some more in-depth looks. Plus, Metro indicates the need for another new line Northern Virginia by 2040, due to anticipated significant crowding on the Silver and Orange Lines. [Washington Post, Greater Greater Washington]
Howze Gains Endorsements — The competition is heating up among the three Democratic candidates seeking the nomination to run for the County Board seat being vacated by Chris Zimmerman. Alan Howze has picked up endorsements from Del. Bob Brink (D) and School Board member Noah Simon. Howze had already secured endorsements from County Board member Jay Fisette and Treasurer Frank O’Leary. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by wolfkann
Home Prices Fall — Arlington was the only jurisdiction in the D.C. metro area to see a drop in home prices last month. The median Arlington sales price in November was $498,500, down 2.1 percent from last year. [Washington Business Journal]
Big Difference Between ‘Near’ and ‘Next To’ Metro Stations — It’s no surprise that real estate closer to Metro stations is more valuable, but what may be surprising is for how high a price such properties can be sold. Looking at the five stations along the Orange Line’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — which is deemed one of the hot areas for development — researchers found that properties one-twentieth of a mile from a station (264 feet) can fetch more than a 30 percent premium over those just a quarter mile away. [Washington Post]
Winter Class Registration Begins — Online registration for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Enjoy Arlington winter classes began today at 7:00 a.m. Available class schedules can be viewed online. Call the Registration Office at 703-228-4747 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with any questions. [Arlington County]
Photo by Matt Henneman
Metro Weekend Service Adjustments — Due to work on the Metrorail system, trains on the Orange and Blue Lines will run every 24 minutes this weekend. The altered schedule begins at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 22, and runs through closing on Sunday, November 24. [WMATA]
Metro Sign Upgrades on the Way — By the end of the winter, Metrorail riders should notice a number of upgrades to the electronic signs announcing train arrivals. Some improvements include making the display crisper so it’s easier to read from a distance and temporarily stopping service advisories from scrolling on the screens when trains are arriving. [Washington Post]
ART System Expansion — At its meeting on Tuesday (November 19), the County Board approved a plan to expand the ART bus system within the next year. Two lines will be added and one line will have service later into the evening. [Sun Gazette]
Students Place First in Video Contest — Six students at Arlington Career Center won first place for the video they submitted to the Virginia School Boards Association student video contest. High school students were challenged to create a 30 second video for the theme “What’s Super About Public Schools.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Earlier: It’s been a rough morning for Metrorail. First, a dangling cable prompted major delays on the Red Line, and now a cracked rail is causing minor delays on the Orange Line.
The cracked rail is on the inbound track of the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Ballston. Repairs are underway and are expected to be completed before the evening rush hour.
While repairs continue, trains will be single tracking between East Falls Church and Ballston. According to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel, right now there are only delays of about five minutes because trains are currently operating on an off-peak schedule.
The cracked rail is reportedly “almost certainly” the result of the recent temperature drop. Stessel explained that because metal expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations, over time that can cause cracks in the rails.
Orange, Yellow and Blue Line trains will all arrive every 20 minutes, beginning at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 8, and continuing through closing on Monday, November 11. All Yellow Line trains will run only between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square.
The system opens at 5:00 a.m. on Monday and will close at midnight. Additional trains will operate on Monday between Vienna and Stadium-Armory from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Crews working on the Yellow and Blue Lines will improve track infrastructure, including installation of new ties, fasteners, insulators, grout pads and cover boards. Orange Line workers will reconstruct station platforms at Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations, as well as performing tie renewal, insulator renewal and structural improvements.
More information about weekend schedule alterations throughout the Metro system can be found on the WMATA website.
Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday — Be sure to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, meaning an extra hour of sleep but one fewer hour of daylight at night. The changing of the clocks is also a good time to replace smoke alarm batteries.
Dems Worry About Libertarian’s Impact on Gov. Race — Historically, polls overestimate the potential votes for third party candidates because voters who might have expressed support for a third party in a poll end up choosing one of the major party candidates in the voting booth. Arlington Democrats worry that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli is thin enough that supporters of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis may tip the election on Nov. 5 if they break for Cuccinelli. [Sun Gazette]
Blue, Orange Line Work This Weekend — Trains on the Blue and Orange Line will run every 15 minutes this weekend due to scheduled track work. [WMATA]
Arlington Education Company Cutting Jobs — Arlington-based Strayer Education is cutting its workforce by 20 percent and closing some of its Strayer University campuses. Students enrollment is down 17 percent. [Washington Business Journal]
The Metrorail Twitter account suggests several problems are plaguing the Orange Line this morning, including a switch problem at West Falls Church and disabled trains at Dunn Lorning and Metro Center. Inbound Orange Line trains were also offloaded at Clarendon and East Falls Church to return to Vienna for service, Metro said.
On Twitter, passengers have been reporting long waits on both the Orange and Blue lines.
Concrete Falling From Bridge — A local bike blog reports that chunks of concrete seem to be falling off the I-66 bridge over Lee Highway, near Lyon Village. Concrete chunks large and small have been accumulating on the sidewalk below the bridge. [Windy Run]
Orange, Blue Line Delays This Weekend — Due to track work and work to mitigate tunnel leaks, Metro trains on the Orange and Blue lines will run every 16 minutes this weekend, instead of the normal 12 minute intervals. [WMATA]
Arlington SAT Scores Rise — The Arlington Public Schools Class of 2o13 had an average SAT score of 1645 this year, up from the two previous years. The state average this year was 1528 while the national average was 1498. Among Arlington students, females averaged 1654 while males averaged 1635. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
The delays, which begin at 10:00 p.m. Friday and continue until closing at midnight Sunday, are again results of platform work between at the Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue stations in Prince George’s County, Md., and track work between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly.
This will be the fourth consecutive weekend customers on the Orange Line will have their service affected. Last weekend, trains ran every 20 minutes from Friday night to Sunday on the Orange Line. The weekend before, all stations from Vienna to East Falls Church were closed entirely, with buses running in between. Labor Day Weekend before that saw the Orange Line run every 24 minutes, even on the holiday.
Riders should also expect delays the weekend of Sept. 27-29, according to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel. The weekend of Oct. 4-6 is expected to be delay-free.
“This is the level of intensity that Red Line riders have been experiencing for the past two years,” Stessel wrote in an email. “The rebuilding effort on Orange/Blue is now ramping up. Green/Yellow will follow.”
The Blue and Yellow Lines will have normal service this weekend.